CWRU Pickleball Club competes in first ever collegiate nationals


Courtesy of @cwrupickleball

CWRU Pickleball Club sent team members to the Pickleball Collegiate National Championships free of charge thanks in part to competing against The Ohio State University.

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

Pickleball is on the rise around the country across all age groups. That’s true here at Case Western Reserve University whose very own Pickleball Club sent representatives to compete in the inaugural 2022 DUPR Pickleball Collegiate National Championships.

The event, held in Austin, Texas from Nov. 18-19, was hosted by Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating (DUPR), the only global rating system in pickleball, and presented by GAMMA Sports. The company rates all players, regardless of age, gender or location, on a scale of 2.00-8.00 depending on their play results.

To qualify for the tournament, collegiate groups had to show proof of at least 40 club members with a valid DUPR rating, compete in at least one intercollegiate tournament and host a fundraising event using the DUPR platform.

 The Pickleball Club attended a tournament in late October hosted by the Ohio State University, where Zach Karlsen and club president Jonathan Stevens won the doubles tournament. In early November, the club hosted the University of Michigan, where the same duo earned a 3rd place finish. Earlier in the semester, CWRU Pickleball Club had also hosted a fundraising tournament alongside 20 other teams. With the requirements satisfied, the CWRU club earned an all-expenses-paid trip for four representatives to compete in the nationals.

The CWRU group included Stevens (4.52 rating), Gabriel Doree (3.93), Melina Peshoff (4.00) and McKenna Gross (3.76). All four competed in the doubles and were seeded 9th in the country with an average DUPR rating of 4.05 and a team DUPR of 16.21. The top three schools were Utah Tech University (4.65, 18.60), James Madison University (4.62, 18.48) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (4.59, 18.37).

The team was set to arrive on Nov. 17 and stay through the 20th with the tournament held at Dreamland Dripping Springs. The first two rounds began on Nov. 18 and the semifinals and finals were conducted on Saturday Nov. 19. For the robin round, teams of four were placed in four pools of equal team DUPR distribution. Following the first two rounds, the winners of each pool competed in the semifinals and finals.

CWRU had to forfeit their first match against Utah Tech due to flight cancellations. 

Additionally, they were scheduled to play against Penn State University for their second match, but the latter dropped out of the tournament, and CWRU instead played against “Gamma University,” which consisted of two men from the University of Florida and two women from the University of South Carolina. CWRU lost the total match but won the women’s doubles 21-18. Against Loyola Marymount University, CWRU lost 16-21 in men’s doubles, won 21-17 in women’s doubles and lost 21-23 and 18-21 in mixed matches.

CWRU’s championship journey ended on Friday, Nov. 18. Utah Tech, UNC, James Madison and Texas Christian University competed for the trophy the following day. For the championship round, it came down to Utah Tech and UNC. In the end, the underdog UNC squad pulled off the upset, winning the first ever championship and a $10,000 scholarship prize.

“[O]verall, we performed pretty well, especially since we had to forfeit our first game,” answered Stevens, reflecting on the team’s performance at their first ever championship. “Although the outcome wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we all saw it as a great experience and will use it to better prepare our club for future tournaments.”

When reflecting on the Pickleball Club’s season, Stevens added “[I]t’s been really cool to see how much our club has grown. We began last year with about 15 members, and now we have over 200 total members, with 40-50 showing up at every practice.”

Stevens emphasized the club’s determination to send as many players as possible to the national championships for years to come. The club will also focus on funding to ensure members will not have to worry about travel and registration fees.

The club is currently looking to partner with local tennis centers, such as Western Reserve Racquet and Co. and Spire Academy as options to hold indoor practices during winter months to sharpen each other’s skills. There are also plans to bring CWRU alumni and professional pickleball athletes to the practices.

Looking ahead to the final weeks of the semester, the Pickleball Cub will be hosting a Holiday Tournament on Dec. 9 at 12 p.m. at the Veale Recreation Center. To register for the doubles tournament, interested duos should do so through the DUPR website.